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Tips to Clip: September 2016

Not a Clue

Most of us have learned a lot from the “stupid client tricks,” which are the result of people with absolutely no clue about the business being put in charge of getting a video made.

During the multicamera coverage of a track meet I worked recently, the producer kept shouting on the intercom, “The winner is wearing red and blue!” He completely forgot that in our black-and-white viewfinders, all the runners were wearing gray.

J. Wunderle of Springfield, Mo., writes about videotaping an actress. His client said to “pull out as she’s talking.” He did so and the client said that she liked it, but why did the talent keep getting smaller?

Mike Gorenflo tells about the client who told him that she knew how to get rid of the crowd noise during a ballpark interview because she had just completed a two-week production course at the local cable facility. “I happen to know that voices go on channel one and background sound goes on channel two! We will just erase channel two.”

Send us your favorite “stupid client trick” and we will share it with your fellow professionals.

Tally or Not

Some producers and clients prefer turning off or covering the camera’s red “on the air/recording” light to keep nonprofessional talent from getting nervous. It helps keep an interview subject calm when the red light is not glaring in their eyes.

However, some time ago I experienced the other side of the coin. I had the pleasure of working as the on-stage handheld camera for a performance by a prominent rock band. The band members, definitely professionals, perked up and played to my camera every time the red light went on.

Lamp Life Lengthener

To extend the life of those expensive lamps in your lighting fixtures, turn the instruments off as soon as they are no longer needed and make them the last thing you strike. That will give the filaments time to cool before they are moved. It can also prevent burning the interior of your cases.

Travel Tips

Ted Irving writes, “Your recent Tips to Clip mentions taking photos of your gear before leaving the United States. Can you expand on this with more details?”

I suggested making pictures of your gear because the photos will help provide proof when you come back that the gear was taken from the United States, is now returning and is not subject to import duty. The photos will also help if an insurance claim is necessary.

The official method of documentation, called an ATA carnet, is issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. To get a carnet, take your gear to an international airport or other official port of entry. There, a customs officer will inventory your stuff and give you the necessary documents. An official carnet will allow your gear to clear customs into most foreign countries and return without paying import duties.

What to Wear

Clients frequently ask what to wear when they are going to be part of a video session or interviewed for television. Both men and women should avoid black or white, and absolutely no houndstooth, small checks or other fine patterns that can cause a moiré or sparkle when they interact with video’s scan lines.

If the person will be appearing on a stage with a dark drape background, he or she will want to avoid black clothing, which can make them blend into that background.

For men, the camera will greatly prefer a gray or brown jacket with a pastel shirt.

For women, pastels and earth tones always work well. Wear normal street makeup. Don’t overdo it and avoid putting makeup on under fluorescent lighting. Keep jewelry to a minimum and avoid sparkly items that might reflect lights into the camera. Large necklaces can rub against a lavalier microphone.

While we are thinking about audio, both men and women should consider where the sound person is going to attach the mic. Does your outfit have a collar or lapels? It’s hard to place the mic well on a turtleneck. Some type of scarf might help here.

What’s Your Idea?

There is an old saying: “Anyone who is fed from the pot should help keep it full.” Over the past 34 years, hundreds of video professionals have given back to the industry by sharing their shooting and production tips through this column. Now it’s your turn.

Share your shortcuts and easy ways to do things by sending an e-mail to